Eating Vegan in East Africa

1.Samosa.jpg

On the road in Kenya | Veggie samosa from a gas station in Kenya–filled with potatoes and spinach! I loved the addition of greens, since I don’t usually see samosas with greens in the U.S.!

Hi friends! Ever wondered what it’s like being vegan in East Africa? Read on, I’m about to tell you all about it. But first, you may be wondering, what in the world was I doing in East Africa, and why has my blog been silent for so long?! Well, after graduating in May (yes, y’all, finally!) I had the great opportunity to participate in a study abroad session in Tanzania with UT Arlington and the University of Cincinnati. I asked my mom if that could be my graduation gift–to go to Tanzania with my classmates and learn how to give back using my recently acquired landscape architecture skills. My mom was absolutely supportive of this idea, and she also suggested that I expand my trip to include Taiwan (for a personal meditation retreat) and Vietnam (for vacation with family), before embarking to Tanzania. So I have been abroad for a month this summer, and am finally back home now, settled enough to start blogging more about the experiences! Continue reading

Green Papaya Salad | Gỏi Đu Đủ

Summer is almost upon us! Time for all the refreshing foods, like this green papaya salad!

Green Papaya Salad | plantcrush.coMy apologies for the huge hiatus on the blog, y’all, my design thesis has been my main priority for about a year now! I am happy to report that I have successfully defended my thesis to graduate. This past weekend, I finally graduated with my Master’s in Landscape Architecture! It still feels so surreal to type those words. I’ve been an emotional, nostalgic mess, and am preparing for an international trip to 3 countries, but that didn’t keep me from getting back in the kitchen!

I’ve had a few potlucks in the past couple weeks, so I’ve been making this green papaya salad a lot. Everyone has been loving it! It’s a classic Thai/Vietnamese dish, and yesterday I made it again for mom for Mother’s Day. Besides spring rolls, Vietnamese salads are one of my mom’s favorite things to eat! Continue reading

The Creek Cafe | Vegan Omakase

This past weekend, the sunlit and cozy interiors of The Creek Cafe welcomed a trickling but steadily increasing stream of curious diners, all eager to get a taste of the cafe’s new vegan Omakase menu. Nestled in the historic Lakewood neighborhood in Dallas, the spot describes itself as Americana with a Tokyo twist. On a normal day, they serve breakfast, pastries, French toast, and Japanese-style fluffy pancakes. Their special two-night vegan event saw such a popular demand that reservations sold out! My dear friend Christina and I were among the lucky attendees, and I’m excited to share our experience with you.

First Photo


Omakase (お任せ): a Japanese phrase meaning “respectfully leaving another to decide what is best.” In this case, the diner is entrusting the chef to make the decision about the dishes to be served. This gives the chef creative flexibility, and also provides the diner with a unique experience.


Continue reading

Classic Tofu Scramble

There are some dishes that are such staples, you could make them with your eyes closed. Tofu scramble is that dish for me. I KNOW, soo basic. But soo good. Just like avocado toast, tofu scramble is a vegan breakfast classic, loved by all. I told y’all, my body is in need of the hearty basics after all the crazy indulgences at the Houston Vegandale Festival.


Classic Tofu Scramble | plantcrush.co


Tofu scramble was the first thing my mom ever taught me in the kitchen. She likes to make hers a bit on the salty side, because we would usually eat it with plain white rice. SO GOOD. It’s a staple that stands the test of time. Last year, one of my vegan friends told me that my tofu scramble back in high school actually introduced her to vegan food. High school was at least 10 years ago…I was so touched!! Omnivores have told me that this scramble even rivals the one at a certain beloved vegan diner around these parts (Spiral Diner, I still love you and your migas; don’t come for me, hahaha). My cousin Jackie is also obsessed with my tofu scramble and has always asked me exactly how I make it, so I made a Highlight about it on my Instagram to share the process; check it out here!

It’s high time I had a post on here dedicated to this beloved classic. My sister Anna and I often find ourselves making a huge batch of tofu scramble every week or so, especially when we find tofu on sale for 25 cents a box! Yes, that happened this weekend, and we bought ten boxes. My mom was so proud, but she said we should’ve gotten 20. #asianmoms

Tofu scramble is satisfying, quick, and packed with nutrients and protein. And it’s so easy to pack in veggies and customize it to your liking! You can make it so many different ways, depending on your mood. Tofu scramble is THE most versatile dish in any vegan’s repertoire. Everyone’s got their own way of making it, and here’s mine! Lately, I’ve been obsessed with lemon pepper and I put it in everything. It really brightens up a tofu scramble! Continue reading

2 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse With Citrus + Lychee

Lychee is one of my favorite southeast Asian fruits, second only to mangosteen. Its pink-white flesh is glossy, delicate and aromatic…the vibrant taste is absolutely unique. Think of a grape, but juicier, with smooth floral, rosy notes and pear undertones. Even comparing it to a grape is slightly insulting, because its freshness and flavor is on an entirely different level.

lychee fruit (1 of 2)

Clearly, lychee is my valentine this year.  Lychee is also considered a lucky fruit in Chinese culture, symbolizing family abundance and harmony, so this dessert would be a fun fusion dish for Lunar New Year gatherings this weekend. Red and golden hues make a lucky color palette. Continue reading

Vegan Bulgogi Fusion Tacos

Happy Taco Tuesday!

For my first post of 2018, what could be better than sharing a recipe for these gorgeous fusion tacos? As always, I must apologize for my absence–life’s kept me on my toes lately. For instance, I wrote this entire post at the print shop yesterday, while waiting for my portfolio to print! And I had to squeeze in the photo shoot a few weeks ago as the sun was setting! I can’t believe my to-do list sometimes. You ever feel like your week’s been crazy, and you look at the calendar to see that it’s only…Monday? Haha.

One of my intentions this year is to let go of my perfectionism and share as many recipes and inspiration as possible, even when I’m inclined not to share them because of my intermittent bouts of Imposter Syndrome (not to mention, my unpredictable grad school schedule). I’m making an effort to share more of my meals on Instagram. In grad school, you eat a lot of random meals, and they’re not always photogenic.

Speaking of photogenic…I’m so happy about how colorful these tacos are! For Christmas, my good friend Lesley got me a marble backdrop for food photos, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. I am IN LOVE (thank you so much, Lesley). Lesley’s one of my favorite people ever from my hometown. I don’t get to see her often but I love that we always encourage each other’s creativity! One of these days we’re going to make some vegan Disney-themed food for her Youtube channel. 🙂

Vegan Bulgogi Fusion Tacos  | plantcrush.co

Continue reading

Chinese Five Spice Gingerbread Cookies

Happy Christmas Eve, y’all! 2017 is coming to a close–I can barely believe it! I’m in the mood to bake spicy cookies and drown my stress in hot chocolate, how about you?

Needless to say, grad school life has kept me quite occupied this year. I actually got sick twice this semester (currently still recovering)–which is absolutely insane to me, because I hardly ever get sick. This semester seriously took a toll on me. I have another year left–my thesis looms ahead! Cue the tears and hot chocolate…and Chinese five spice gingerbread cookies.

gingerbread scene final-B

Chinese five spice, ngũ vị hương in Vietnamese, is one of my favorite things to reach for in the kitchen. It has a complex balance of flavors: sweet, savory, sour, and bitter. Around this time last year, I shared a savory recipe featuring it–Fusion Jackfruit Bao Bites. This year, I’m showing you how I decided to throw it into some cookies…it turned out to be a success at a vegan Christmas cookie swap I went to, so I decided to refine the recipe to share with you!

Finishing Process2

Chilling the dough before and after rolling keeps cookie shapes intact–but I also like the cute mistakes that occur when I forget to chill the second time, like this little dancing cutie!

Continue reading

Lemon Lavender Candied Ginger (Mứt Gừng) for Chinese New Year (Tết) | plantcrush.co

Lemon Lavender Candied Ginger for Chinese New Year (Mứt Gừng)

Like any new year celebration, Chinese New Year is about new beginnings. Sweet treats are popular cross-culturally, as they symbolize a sweet, joyful start to the upcoming year. I think we can all agree that we definitely need more joy this year. This year, I was honored to be invited by the lovely Christine (Vermilion Roots) to participate in a Chinese New Year sweets party with several other Asian bloggers. It’s kind of like a virtual potluck—I urge you to check out the participating blogs below, to get a taste of the lunar new year from various parts of Asia! Continue reading